Balancing anything with law school is always a challenge. The demands on your time have probably never felt more significant than they do now. It can be more difficult to find free time to spend with the ones you love, and even if you do find the time, it’s hard not to bore them by talking about law school constantly.
Law school is a tough experience, a serious investment. The last thing you want is to let anything get in the way of you achieving this goal. Yet, succeeding in law school won’t really mean anything if you can’t share it with the people you love. So, how do you maintain those relationships while also devoting yourself to law?
Be Honest About Your Needs
In order to graduate from law school, you will need to make time for yourself and for your studies. You will need to spend time with law school related friends as they will become your coworkers and colleagues. You may spend time writing legal articles for law review or doing legal research for a professor. You need to go to social events to network. There might be panel discussions in the evening.
There are countless ways in which law school can fill up your schedule. Being honest about this at the start may help alleviate frustration down the road from your partner, pre law school friends, or family members.
In addition to how you manage your time, how you share responsibilities at home with your partner or roommates may also change and could lead to resentment if you don’t set expectations. For example, my husband and I each have primary responsibility at home for half the year. He is a hockey play-by-play broadcaster. During hockey season, he works weekends and nights. Watching our son, doing the dishes, preparing food, keeping our home clean, and a lot of other things become my primary responsibility. However, during the off-season, he takes on more of the childcare and chores at home.
We know in advance that during certain months of the year, one of us has to step up and shoulder more responsibility at home. By expressing these needs and talking about them, neither one of us has ever harbored any resentment over having to be the primary caretaker.
Be realistic and be honest with your loved ones about your needs in law school to avoid any frustrations over the demands on your time.
Don’t Date Disaster
When I think about my first semester of law school, the majority of my memories are from local bars. I just moved to Boston and met a great group of classmates. I also just turned 21. After our last classes for the day, my new friends and I inevitably went to grab dinner, which led to drinks, which led to crashing on someone’s couch or floor to avoid the long train ride home.
I’d wake up barely rested at all and somehow walk bleary-eyed to campus to start studying for the next round of classes. It was a grueling pace. We all realized after a few weeks we needed to scale back a little bit on our socializing.
My 2L year, I met my friend Alyson. She was a runner like me, and instead of ordering pizza and grabbing beers like I did with friends the year before, Alyson and I went for runs around the city. I felt energized and excited rather than beleaguered and exhausted.
You will absolutely be able to still spend time with the people you love even while going to law school, but how you spend that time is important. If you constantly go to bars or stay out late, you will not be able to accomplish all of the work that is required of you. Spend quality time with people you love that will enhance your law school experience not make it more challenging.
Value What Matters
Yes, you will have to be selfish while in law school. But, it’s important to still remember who helped you get to this point in your life.
This summer, I studied for the Uniform Bar Exam in New York. At the time I took the exam, my son was 17 months old. My husband would watch our son while I retreated to our bedroom to study. Sometimes, I would hear the tip-tap-tip-tap-tip-tap of little feet running down the hallway followed by a crash on my bedroom door and a little voice shouting, “Mama!” I could have ignored him. My husband would scoop him up quickly enough and whisk him away to play trucks or race cars. But, most of the time I put down my flash cards or outlines, opened the door, and let my baby boy run right into my arms for a big hug.
After a momentary snuggle, my son was back to playing with his toys, and I was back to studying. Showing the people you love that you care doesn’t have to be a lengthy event. Sometimes just a quick note, a short text, or a big hug can be all they need. You might even find that you needed it just as much.
It’s All About Balance
Like so many things in life, maintaining relationships while also succeeding in law school is all about finding balance. Be honest with your loved ones about your needs. Be realistic about what you can give. Don’t overdo things to where the time you spend with loved ones starts to seriously interfere with your studies. But always remember, no matter what wonderful achievements you accomplish in law school and beyond, none of it will be worthwhile without the love and support of your partner, family, and friends.
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